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Split vote passes Winterville spending plan


By Angela Harne
The Times Leader

Sunday, June 17, 2018

WINTERVILLE — The Winterville Town Council voted 4-1 Monday to approve a $24.71 million 2018-19 fiscal year budget.

Councilman Tony Moore opposed the budget.

“We must pay down some of our debt as our finance director pointed out, and not use fund balance funds to balance the budget. We also promised a reduction in the electric rates,” Moore said.

The budget includes a $2 stormwater fee increase and a $4 sewer rate increase. The budget does not include a decrease in the electric rate.

Residents will now pay $4 a month in stormwater fees. The town’s new sewer flat rate is $30.83, effective July 1, generating an additional $180,000 a year in the sewer fund.

The budget includes several new positions, including four full-time police officers, a part-time building inspector, a full-time parks and recreation assistant and a full-time fire department administrative position.

The budget also features several big-ticket purchases, including three police cars, a public works tractor, an aerial fire truck, sprinklers for the fire department’s bays and a fire barrier wall in the fire station.

The aerial fire truck costs $1.043 million. The fire department also needs an additional $158,000 to upfit the new fire truck purchased this fiscal year. Each police car costs $32,000 and the tractor is $50,000. The sprinklers for the bays cost $100,000 and the fire barrier is $50,000.

The capital improvements will be funded using a combination of the town’s $5.32 million fund balance — 62 percent of the total budget — and outside lending agencies.

The council’s policy is to maintain a 25 percent fund balance. To maintain its 25 percent policy, the council must maintain a $2.15 million fund balance, according to finance director Anthony Bowers.

An additional $75,000 was added to the recreation fund during the June 4 budget hearing after at motion by Councilman Johnny Moye that was seconded by Councilwoman Veronica Roberson. The motion directed $30,000 for to complete a study needed to pursue grants for a multipurpose center, $20,000 to resurface basketball courts at Hillcrest Park and $25,000 to install lights along the walking trail in Winterville Recreation Park.

The motion passed 3-2 with Councilmen Ricky Hines and Tony Moore opposed.

The additional funds also came from the fund balance, increasing the recreation fund balance to $1.05 million.

The budget, which does not include a property tax increase, includes a 1.5 percent cost-of-living-adjustment for town employees and 1 percent for the town’s merit pay program.

It also includes $66,485 for non-town agencies, including the town’s two senior citizens organizations ($3,500 each), Winterville Chamber of Commerce ($15,000), Council on Aging Meals on Wheels ($4,485), Rebuilding Together Pitt County ($10,000), Boys and Girls Club-Jack Minges Unit ($5,000) and the Watermelon Festival ($25,000).

“I thank council and staff. This was one of a more challenging budget process to overcome the deficit going in,” said Winterville Manager Terri Parker.

The Times-Leader serves southern Pitt County including the towns of Ayden, Grifton and Winterville.